Generations challenges in the workplace

19156112311_9cf29da923_o.jpgToday’s workplace is most definitely a multi-generational one. In today’s organisations is not unusual to see an age gap of nearly 50 years between the oldest and youngest employees, who respectively have different needs, expectations, perspective and working style. Generation gaps are as old as history. Nevertheless, businesses seem to be more  concerned than before about managing different age groups with widely different expectation in the workplace.

If the secret of being a good manager is to understand the people you are managing, then understanding the generation that identifies your workers is crucial to create a relaxed atmosphere in the workplace and a productive team.

A study published by EY, includes the view of over 1200 professionals from different generations and industries about the strengths and weaknesses of each generation. It finds that 75% of managers agree that managing multi-generational teams is a challenge and that is primarily because of different work expectations (77%) and a lack of comfort with younger employees managing older employees (72%).

In terms of generational strengths and weaknesses, it shows that members of Generation Y, born between 1979 and 1994, are the best at being tech savvy and social media opportunists. They are the most enthusiastic about their job and they are better than Boomers in terms of collaboration, adaptability and entrepreneurship. However, they aren’t great tem-player and hard-workers. Generation X, born between 1965 and 1978, are great revenue generators. They are also more adaptable and collaborative than Millennials, but not as good as Boomers in terms of displaying executive presence and being cost effective. Finally, Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, scored very high for being a productive part of the organisation, hardworking, team player and essential for others’ development. However, they are not very adaptable and collaborative.

The study also found that cash is still considered the most important perks among all three generations. Benefits, such as healthcare and retirement, were ranked second by Boomers, while flexibility was ranked second most important by Gen x and Gen Y. Millennials, were significantly more inclined to prefer promotions than Gen X and Boomers.

Nevertheless, Generation Y members, who will account 75 % of the UK workforce in a decade and  will be the larger proportion of workers in the tourism, hospitality and events industry, are seen negatively by current managers (Cairncross & Buultjens, 2007) Distracted, lazy, narcissist, coddled, irresponsible are some of the words used by older generations to describe us! They say dealing with us is not an easy task. Especially in the event industry, it becomes very difficult to second Gen Y’s innovative ideas while delivering traditional event objectives developed by older generations, who are extremely confident with them. However, these may not please the youngest generation, who seeks for digital and social lifestyle of engagement.

A study conducted by the International Association of Exhibition and Events, reported that one of the biggest trend affecting the event industry is to relate across all generations of employees, customers and clients. Many industry professionals who have reached their retirement age, are staying in the workforce because they are not financially ready to retire, while a multitude of young professionals are entering the workforce with their advanced computer and social media skills.

The older generations, who generally do not posses those advanced computer skills, not only need to understand new trends in technology and social media, but also learn how to affectively put the younger generation to work and to keep them engaged!

As the tech market expands, event attendees get tired of usual concepts . That’s when social media and technology come to action! Social media is now one of the most effective tool event managers can use to disseminate information about events, interact with attendees, ask for feedback and create year-round engagement with a target audience. Additionally, the new technology, has made it easier for event managers to extend the life of their events,  stimulate participation and even measure ROI.

Although possessing a wide range of valuable skills, event veterans lack that understanding.  Generation Y employees, with their advanced IT and social media skills, are perhaps the most competent workforce to deliver today’s consumer expectations. As a member of generation Y, I believe older and younger generation should work together as a team to deliver events that will work, not only for Generation Y, but for other generations too.

 If events organisations want to be successful in managing their events, then they must recognise the values ad attributes that each generation brings to the table. Understanding that a different work ethic does not necessarily  mean an inferior work ethic is a first step. Building strategies and programs that highlights the positive qualities of each generation is next.

*Image courtesy by Markus Spiske at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s